West Virginia Power Company Admits Coal Is Doomed

In front of a roomful of energy executives, the president of Appalachian Power declared that the war on coal was over, and coal had not emerged victorious. This is in West Virginia, a state where coal mining is the largest industry and employer.

Charles Patton, president of Appalachian Power, told energy executives that coal consumption is likely to remain stagnant whether or not federal regulations like the Clean Power Plan are allowed to go forward. He also said that in the national debate about coal and climate change, the public has largely settled on the side of climate change.

“You just can’t go with new coal [plants] at this point in time,” Patton reportedly said. “It is just not economically feasible to do so.”
Regardless of how the Clean Power Plan — President Obama’s signature climate effort placing limits on carbon emissions from power plants — shakes out, Patton estimated that Appalachian Power’s use of coal could drop 26 percent by 2026.

“With or without the Clean Power Plan, the economics of alternatives to fossil-based fuels are making inroads in the utility plan,” Patton said. “Companies are making decisions today where they are moving away from coal-fired generation.”

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